This is about one small human tragedy in Gaza, but in a larger sense it is about dhimmis and potential dhimmis everywhere, whether Jewish or Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, atheist or whatever.
“We believe that from this terrible destruction we will see a great revival, of the Torah, of the Nation, of the Land…” And of the human spirit, in all its manifestations. The boot on the face cannot prevail forever. The trampling of the aspirations of the soul cannot win forever. Willful lies, polite PC niceties and evil-hearted propaganda cannot prevail forever. The truth will out, and the truth will win.
The Gobi family, from what used to be N’vei Dekalim, buried its son Elkanah yesterday at the Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem. His brother delivered a comprehensive and moving eulogy.
Elkanah Gobi, a student in the Sderot hesder yeshiva where he combined military service with Torah study, was killed in March 2002 during a terrorist attack at the Kisufim Crossing. He was mistakenly run over by an army jeep when he got out to fire back at a terrorist who had shot at him and was preparing to shoot at other Jewish motorists.
The Gobi family sat for the required abbreviated mourning period at the Western Wall plaza yesterday afternoon. Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch had asked the family not to do so, but the family agreed only not to erect a mourners’ tent.
One of Elkanah’s brothers delivered the following eulogy at the burial site:
Elkanah, my dear brother, I stand here and simply cannot believe it. It’s impossible to believe that this is happening to us. Three and a half years ago, we were all stunned and pained, as we accompanied you to eternal rest on the beloved land of Gush Katif. I was sure that that the was the most difficult day of my life – but a week and a half ago, I realized otherwise.
I walked around with Adiel the day before the expulsion and thought to myself, ‘Could there possibly be a more fantastic place to grow up than here in Gush Katif?’ We returned from the festive Torah Scroll ceremony in the synagogue, an amazing and powerful experience, and suddenly thousands of soldiers were flooding the town. They poured onto the streets, the paths, the lawns and the beautiful gardens, and the next morning, they started coming into the houses. The curse of expulsion had begun…
This so-beautiful neighborhood, beloved and central to N’vei Dekalim, became a jungle of soldiers. They surrounded the Nissim family house, and we see Yechiel coming out surrounded by dozens of soldiers, the perpetual smile on his face having disappeared, replaced by a sea of tears… Then we see them evicting the Golan family, with Ika coming out and saying words that could split rocks. Then they rush to the Ohayon family, where Rabbi Ohayon was sitting and explaining to the soldiers how we must accept Divine decrees the way we accept decrees of someone’s death. And then another family and another eviction, and then I see the Naumberg family coming out, embracing each other, with Reb Shabtai – whose every word over the past year was a lesson in faith – coming out holding a Torah scroll, with Mordy standing near the mezuzah and reciting Shma, accepting the yoke of Heaven with cries reaching up to the Heavenly Throne. Then the Cohen family, sitting and singing last songs of prayer, filled with tears of the Holy Land. And then we see the Achituv children being dragged out, and then the expulsion of Rabbi Tal from his house; he comes out looking like an angel, enwrapped in tallit and adorned in tefillin, kissing the beloved land of Gush Katif. And then they get to Rabbi Gavrieli, who remains amazingly serene as is characteristic of the tzaddik he is, and everything is so fast so that no one will be able to wake up or scream out accidentally – for this is the way of deception and lies, always rushing in fear of being discovered.
And then, it just happened. They came into our house, dozens of them, and we sat down opposite them in the living room, with the big picture of you in my hands, and I started to talk… I told them about how our parents came here 22 years ago when there was only sand, sand and sand. They left a thriving farm in Kfar Achim and came to Katif with a sense of mission and faith to make the desert bloom! …
But mostly I told them about you. How you grew up here amidst the golden sand, and learned Torah and Derekh Eretz [the right way to behave], and were a dedicated youth leader in Bnei Akiva, and studied in yeshiva and enlisted in the Duvdevan unit of the army. And I told about that black Saturday night, how you were dressed in your Sabbath clothes and went to take Boaz who had been urgently called to the army, and suddenly an accursed terrorist lying on the side of the road opened fire. The reinforced army jeep that passed by went to get help, or who knows what – and you, instead of pressing on the gas and getting out of there, you remembered all the people driving behind you and about the holy land below you, and you decided not to give in! You went out with Boaz, with heroism that we learn about only in the books, and stormed towards the terrorist. The bulletproof jeep that returned didn’t think to do the same, but rather to run over the source of the shooting – which, unfortunately, was you.
I remember that night that we decided to bury you in Gush Katif! It was clear to all that this would be your wish; your connection to this place was something that could not be detached.
…I looked those soldiers in the eye and said, ‘I’m sure that the grandfathers of each and every one of you… on the day that you enlisted in the army, were proud of you, soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces. But today, as you stand here in that uniform and follow this criminal order to expel Jews and to destroy, to an order that gives our house as a gift to the terrorist who caused the death of Elkanah and other thousands – I hope that your grandfathers are not turning over in their graves…’
But we will go ahead, with our faces turned to the future. Before we were thrown out of our house, I stood with a Lt.-Col. who was there, and I asked him with tears, ‘Tell me, what are they doing to us?’ And he said to me, ‘They are trying to break you.’ And he started to cry and say, ‘I see you and I discover people that I never merited to see before. For two days, I have been going into houses, and I see the truth. I see you from inside, the education of your children, your faith, your inner strength, and I know that you are the salt of the earth. The lying bloodthirsty media made sure to paint you black, as violent Messianic crazies. They said there would be dozens of dead and the like. They caused us to hate you without knowing who you really are – but today I feel that I love you so much. How I wish that my children would be like yours… Just don’t give up! You must not break!’
I told him that they can throw Jews out to the street, and uproot entire families, and dismantle cohesive communities, and destroy houses and greenhouses, and turn Paradise into desolation and destruction, and even blow up synagogues and remove bodies from their graves – but it’s impossible to break our spirit, our dedication, our valor, our spirit of life. This can never be broken!
Darkness is not banished with sticks, but rather by adding light. We will add light with new communities, and new families, and bringing children into the world, and love of Land and willingness to fight for it, and love of nation… We will continue to connect with genuine Jewish identity, to the real reason we have come home to this land… We will continue because the People of Israel did not start yesterday; we draw strength from our glorious history, from our holy forefathers…
One woman who was thrown out of her home in Gadid went outside and looked Heavenward, and said, “Master of the Universe. I gave you my house, now You please give us Your house!”
We believe that from this terrible destruction we will see a great revival, of the Torah, of the Nation, of the Land…”